On April 14, The South Texan ran a piece entitled “Car accident leaves TAMUK student in coma.” Since then, we have received word back from readers who were disturbed by the image that was coupled with this story, and expressed concern over its use. We would like to address these concerns, and to offer the reasons behind the photograph’s placement.
At the time that Jaya “Bharat” Reddy Marella’s automobile accident was announced, we at The South Texan were jarred alongside the rest of the campus community at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. We were crushed to hear of the severe injuries that Marella had received; coupled with the initial shock was the report that the collision was linked to a driver who appeared to have been under the influence of alcohol.
At the time of its printing, our purpose in sharing the story “Car accident leaves TAMUK student in coma” was not only to offer information to members of the campus community—but also to encourage them to reach out to Marella and his family. Part of this was through direction to a GoFundMe page, which had been established to help in relieving the Marella family of the financial strain thrust on by sudden medical bills, as well as aid in covering traveling expenses for family members.
The photograph that appeared on the front page of our last issue, of an unconscious Bharat Marella in the ICU, was Public Domain; it was taken by fair use from the GoFundMe page set up for Marella’s benefit. It was a devastating image of a young man in devastating condition. That it should be troubling to see is right—because there is no grief like watching a brilliant, ignescent mind stricken because of another’s wrong actions.
We provided this image, already available to anyone who came upon the GoFundMe page, in The South Texan to address two issues.
First, it was our hope that seeing the face of a familiar, gifted member of Javelina Nation would—along with the corresponding article—direct others to supply help to him. At the same time, we strove to present the effects of one person’s terrible choices on others. Bharat Marella, scheduled to graduate in May, was instead left to pay for what was dealt by a suspected drunk driver. If the image of a man, comatose, disturbs us—then may it also remind us of the many who depend on a single person’s decision.
In the wake of Bharat Marella’s passing, we mourn. At the same time, we remember a student who was bright, and who built brilliance into his time at TAMUK. In our coverage from the time of the accident until now, we have sought not to offend, but to offer the weight of the situation with respect—and in now remembering Bharat Marella, some small measure of hope because of his life.
For those who might still have concerns or thoughts on this, we encourage you to send a letter to the editor; these may be sent via email at: [email protected] Additionally, correspondence can be made to: The South Texan, Manning Hall 165, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Kingsville, Texas 78363.
Follow Kaitlin Ruiz on Twitter: @kaitlinruiz95